“What the hell is going on with the Department of Justice and the FBI?”
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) put the question to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein during his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.
But in the drawn-out session, Rosenstein dodged one of the biggest questions on the mind of lawmakers and the general public: Did the FBI pay for the salacious Trump dossier?
Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) posed the question directly.
“Did the FBI pay for the dossier?” DeSantis asked.
Rosenstein would not give an answer.
“I’m not in a position to answer that question,” he said.
DeSantis followed-up to clarify whether Rosenstein could or would not respond to the question.
“Do you know the answer to the question?” the Florida Congressman pressed.
Rosenstein began “I believe I know the answer, but the Intelligence Committee is the appropriate committee…”
But DeSantis swiftly cut him off, saying the Judiciary Committee has “every right to the information.”
DeSantis continued his questioning of the FBI’s use of the infamous dossier.
“Was that info [the dossier] used to get surveillance over anybody associated with Trump,” DeSantis asked.
Rosenstein’s reply was again unsubstantial. “I have set aside about a half hour every day to review FISA applications, and it is no legal for me to talk about those applications. So I am not able to answer one way or the other.”
Rep. Jim Joran (R-OH), one of the founders of the Freedom Caucus, scathingly pointed out to Rosenstein why it matters if the FBI paid for the dossier.
“If you guys paid [dossier author] Christopher Steele at the same time the Democrats and the Clinton campaign paid him, or if you took the dossier, dressed it all up, took it to the FISA court and used it as the basis to get a warrant … this is unbelievable.”
Jordan went on to say “I think the public trust in this whole thing is gone.”
— TrumpSoldier (@DaveNYviii) December 13, 2017
The scrutiny of the FBI and Justice Department revolved around the recent revelation that Peter Strzok, an FBI agent who played a key role in the Trump probe and the Hillary Clinton email server investigation, shared thousands of anti-Trump, pro-Hillary text messages with Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer and his mistress.
Strzok was removed from the Special Counsel team and demoted at the FBI when the Justice Department discovered his tweets in July.
Rep. Gowdy said a perception of conflict of interest now hangs over Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of the President.
“We don’t like conflicts of interest because it undermines people’s confidence in both the process and the result. And lo and behold! Those that are supposed to make sure there are no conflicts of interest seem to have a bit of their own.”